After four years of investigation and trial, the founder of the Go Against the Tide TV channel and pastor of the New Covenant Church in Lublin, Poland, Pawel Chojecki has been convicted. The Court of Appeals in Lublin upheld the verdict of the court of first instance, imposing a sentence of 8 months of restriction of liberty in the form of community service. The pastor was also ordered to pay the costs of both instances. Under the Polish system, Pastor Chojecki can no longer appeal the verdict. The case will be referred to international institutions for consideration. The trial has appalled honest Poles. As a result of this outrage over the lack of freedom of speech and religion in Poland, the “Going for Freedom” movement was formed. After the verdict was announced, Pastor Chojecki announced that the “Going for Freedom” social movement would field a candidate in the 2025 presidential election.
With the success of the Go Against the Tide TV in 2016, the campaign against Pastor Chojecki, his family and the church began. The hecklers tried to intimidate the pastor, made death threats against him and his family, harassed him with slander on the Internet, and set up groups to destroy Go Against the Tide TV and the New Covenant Church in Lublin. There were also physical attacks on the Church, billboards or cars of people working at the TV station. The prosecutor’s office consistently failed to identify the perpetrators and dropped the cases. The hecklers threatened to mount a lawsuit against Pastor Chojecki. And indeed, in 2019, the Lublin prosecutor’s office, which is subordinate to Minister Ziobro, began proceedings against the pastor on the basis of short clippings from his sermons and programs featuring the pastor. The clippings were described with anti-Semitic and offensive titles. From more than 1,000 hours of programs, the prosecutor’s office selected a few words to draw up a curious indictment based on them. It’s hard to believe, but the pastor was accused of … praising the initiation of a war of aggression against North Korea! It is a well-known fact that this war has been going on since 1950…. In addition, the pastor was also charged with insulting the Polish nation, insulting President Andrzej Duda, insulting the religious feelings of Catholics and insulting Catholic objects of religious honor. The pastor’s alleged guilt consisted, among other things, of saying that in the eyes of God, who paid for our salvation with the blood of his only Son Jesus Christ, Catholic sacraments and attempts to earn salvation with them are “like stinking dung.” The person who appeared to the children at Fatima was called a phantom by the pastor, and this, according to prosecutor Urban and first instance judge Andrew Klimkowski, is a crime.
Testifying in favor of the pastor in the appeal proceedings were former priest – and later pastor – George, pastor and psychologist Ireneusz Dawidowicz, and member of the Presidium of the Council of the Baptist Church in Poland Pastor Henryk Skrzypkowski. They all stood in solidarity with Pastor Chojecki’s biblical views in conflict with the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Episcopate of Poland also commented on the trial, whose letter said this about Pastor Chojecki’s views and language: “These types of expressions: strong, blunt, offensive, were used in religious polemics in the 16th century. However, this type of wording, five hundred years after the Reformation began, is no longer used by preachers, theologians, clergy and followers of Christ in many strands of Christianity. […] The Roman Catholic Church cares about good relations with other churches and religious communities in Poland. It cares about friendly and fraternal relations. However, not all Christian communities today choose to participate, even minimally, in the ecumenical movement.”
Outrage at the harassment by the prosecutor’s office and the courts of Pastor Chojecki was expressed by many representatives of the media, politics and religion from Poland and abroad. Among them were editor Hanna Shen, editor Eli Barbur, editor Eliza Michalik, attorney Artur Nowak, attorney Danuta Wawrowska, Prof. Tadeusz Bartoś, Prof. Krzysztof Kilian, Jaroslaw Makowski, Mikolaj Rykowski, Jerzy Dajuk, pastor Leszek Czyż, pastor Marcin Knapik, MP Artur Dziambor, MP Paweł Szramka, MP Andrzej Sosnierz, MP Lech Kołakowski. Voices from abroad on Pastor Chojecki’s side included missionary Joe Losiak, Pastor Bob Kraft, Jon Stemkoski (director of the Celebrant Singers), Art Thompson, Judge John McClellan Marshall, Pastor Matthew Shea, former Finnish Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen, among others.
After the verdict was announced, Pastor Chojecki commented:
“I would like to thank Mr. Judge Wojciech Zaręba for this verdict. This is a clear message to Poland and the world. […] This verdict shows the limits of our freedom – or rather, our slavery. […] It is not an exaggeration when I say about the system of catocommunism and that we are just going for freedom. […] Our “Going for Freedom” movement has a clear goal – to change Poland. And from here I would like to announce that as a result of what has happened around this process, this stirring of people of good will who do not reconcile themselves to the despotism in Poland, to slavery, to the privileging of Catholic bishops – we are going for freedom also in the political sphere. […] In 2025 – unless God decides otherwise – we will put up our candidate for president. […] We want to end slavery for all Poles. So help us God!”
Thanking all those who refuse to accept the taking away of Poles’ freedom of speech and religion, he announced that the aftermath of this scandalous process will be the further building of the “Going for Freedom” social movement, so that in 2025 the freedom and Protestant circles can field a candidate for the presidential elections. “In 1980, we began the road to freedom, but the collusion of Catholic bishops with communist criminals stopped us halfway. Today, a young generation has grown up that no longer wants a hybrid of freedom, it wants a normal just state of Free Poles. Such a state is our goal. Together we will complete the work of Solidarity!”
Outside the court during the hearings, many people gathered with slogans “Freedom of speech” and “Support Pastor Chojecki.”